A cabal of Conservative MPs have condemned their government’s new tier-system for post-lockdown England as “authoritarianism at work”.
Unveiling the tiers that come into force when lockdown ends on December 2, Matt Hancock told the Commons the tiers for England are “necessary to protect the NHS and keep the virus under control”.
The plan puts 99% of England’s population – more than 55 million people – under tighter tier 2 or 3 restrictions with only 1% – Cornwall, Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly – going into tier one next week.
Steve Baker, Tory MP for Woking tweeted: “The authoritarianism at work today is truly appalling. But is it necessary and proportionate to the threat from this disease? The Government must publish their analysis“.
Baker added: “On the economy and on coronavirus, I fear we are now so far down the rabbit hole that we have forgotten we even entered it”.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential Tory backbench 1922 Committee was scathing of the new restrictions, and told the BBC they “interfered in people’s private and personal lives in a way which is unacceptable”.
Brady’s constituency, Altrincham and Sale West has been put into tier three and earlier this week the MP tweeted: “In response to the news we are returning to a tier system on 3rd Dec, I asked the PM & Secretary of State to publish both the assessment of the economic impact of these continued restrictions as well the criteria used to allocate tiers.”
Boris Johnson, fresh from isolation, tonight told the country there is “reason to hope” for an end to the “era of restrictions” by spring but said the tiers are needed to “navigate a hard winter when the burden on our NHS is heaviest.”
He warned any easing of restrictions will lead to a New Year national lockdown and that despite vaccines and mass testing being rolled out it could be Easter before the UK is back to a more normal life.
‘PM’s tiers inflame lockdown revolt’
Brady and Baker – who is on also the executive of the 1922 Committee – are both part of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) which is made up of around 70 Conservative backbench MPs.
ConservativeHome – founded to “champion the interests of grassroots Tory members” – calls the CRG a “big headache for the government” and goes as far to state that their swelling number of members means the government “may have to increasingly call on Labour to get the voting numbers” in the Commons.
Boris Johnson’s 80-strong majority means only 40 MPs need vote against the government for it to need the support of other parties. Brady has already said he will vote against the government next week and the Guardian reports tonight (Thursday) that “up to 70 Tories may refuse to back” the prime minister’s Covid tiers. A column in the Telegraph argues the PM’s “crude new tier system has only inflamed the lockdown revolt”.
The CRG is another group of disgruntled Tory backbenchers and follows the Northern Research Group that was set up this year and is modelled on the European Research Group of MPs who eventually achieved Brexit. Interestingly, Nigel Farage has very recently rebranded his Brexit party into the anti-lockdown Reform UK party.